“While this was all…enlightening,” she said carefully, “I don’t want to be of value in that way. I won’t be used for my blood ever again.”
“I don’t want to hear it. I listened to your spiel. I find the blood diseases interesting. I hope that you find a way to stop the cogitare anemia spreading in the city so that nothing else bad happens, but I am never going to be anyone’s blood bag again. Got it?”
Washington sighed. “I do wish that you would reconsider.”
“Don’t count on it,” she said before turning and hurrying out of the medical wing.
* * *
When Reyna wandered downstairs to get lunch, her mind was still full of all of the blood science talk with Washington. She felt like a freaking hematologist after that one conversation. Antigens and antibodies and red blood cells, oh my!
She shouldn’t have been surprised that Washington had asked for her blood. But that was the last thing she wanted to do with her life. She’d had enough trauma around her blood. She didn’t want to work with it. In that moment, she missed her camera and the freedom to photograph whatever she chose. It wasn’t a job, per say, but it gave her purpose. She doubted she’d find anything like that here.
She picked up a sandwich, chips, and bottled water from the cafeteria and was going back to her room to eat when she saw her brothers sitting together at a table by the far wall. She angled toward them and set her tray down.
“Reyna,” Brian said, jumping up and more or less tackling her.
She laughed. “Um, hey!”
Drew was there in another second, pulling her into a hug. “We heard what happened.”
“You tried to run away?” Brian asked with a sigh.
“Guys, breathing room,” Brian’s fiancé, Laura, said from her seat.
Reyna waved them both off and took a seat next to Laura. Reyna drew her into a hug. “It’s been so long.”
“I know. Sorry, I haven’t been feeling well or else I would have found you already.” Laura didn’t look too well as it was. She was always pale, but she looked a little green. Her blond hair at least shone prettily as if she had taken special care with it. She’d even put on makeup. Reyna felt pretty drab in comparison.
“No worries. I’ve been a bore. Let me see your ring.”
A smile split her face from ear to ear as she shoved her left hand in Reyna’s face. It was an oval-shaped ruby with little diamonds encrusted around it on a simple band. Nothing too fancy, but still classy, classic, and beautiful. The fact that Brian was able to purchase anything on a meager warehouse salary was pretty amazing.
“I love it,” Reyna gushed. “When is the wedding? Next year?”
She turned from Brian to Laura and back. Brian opened his mouth and then closed it. It wasn’t often that he seemed flustered. And he was never out of words.
Laura’s cheeks heated. “Well, actually, we were just discussing moving it up.”
“Oh yeah? To when?”
“Christmas,” Laura said with a small giggle.
“Christmas!” Reyna cried. “I’m not crazy, right? That’s two weeks away?”
“When did this happen?” Drew asked with wide eyes. Apparently, even he wasn’t aware of it.
“We decided yesterday,” Brian said.
“That’s so soon!” Reyna said. “Oh my God, do you have everything planned? Do you need help with anything? I can help!”
“We don’t have anything planned,” Laura said. “It’s all happening so suddenly. I don’t even know who to ask to get the things we need for a wedding or if we can legally do that here or what.”
“I can figure that all out,” Reyna told her. “Don’t worry. We’ll make it a day to remember.”
“Thank you, Reyna,” Laura said, beaming.
“But why are you moving it up?” Drew asked in confusion.
Brian and Laura exchanged a look and her cheeks turned rosy again.
“Oh my God,” Reyna whispered. “Are you…?”
Laura bit her lip and nodded. “Found out yesterday!”
Reyna squealed, drawing the attention of half of the cafeteria with her excitement. Screw everything else in life. This was too incredible not to celebrate.
“A wedding and a baby,” Reyna said, clasping Laura’s hand.
“Congrats, bro!” Drew said. He slapped a sheepish Brian on the back. “Guess this is my cue to move out of the room.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Laura protested.
“Well, actually,” Brian said with a laugh.
“It’s cool. I think Gregory has extra room,” Drew told them.
“Well, I’m so excited. I can’t believe this. Good things do come out of horrible circumstances, huh?” Reyna said with a wink.
Laura laughed. “Can’t say I don’t agree.”
Reyna felt a rightness settle over her as she grilled Laura on all the details about the baby and the future wedding. Hanging out with her brothers and her future sister-in-law and just being totally normal reminded her of everything she had been missing since she left home to work for Visage. Brian and Drew were the reason she had gotten the job in the first place. She loved them so fiercely that she wanted to give them a better life. And now they were all having it.